Skip to main content

Stories by David Bressan

Cowboys, Dinosaurs & Evolution - A tribute to Ray Harryhausen

" The Valley of Gwangi "* (1969) is considered one of the most notable prehistoric-monster-movies of all times - this fame is based on the unusual story (adapted from a script by special effects pioneer Willis "King-Kong" O'Brien ) but more so on the stunning creature effects featured in the movie and produced by special effects legend Ray Harryhausen - who passed away today aged 92.The movie combines the western-genre with the classic monster-movie of the sixties and seventies - however the movie was released at the end of the golden age of monster-movies and the public had almost lost interest in this genre...

May 7, 2013 — David Bressan

May 1, 1851: The First Dinomania (and Dinosaur Nightmares)

The first day of the " Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations " was a great success - half a million people visited the official opening of the first World's Fair at Crystal Palace, a 20 acres large greenhouse located in Hyde Park of central London...

May 1, 2013 — David Bressan

Mother Earth

Fig.1. "Mother Earth", the nourisher of all things, from the alchemistic work "Atalanta fugiens" (1618) by Michael Maier (image in public domain).

April 22, 2013 — David Bressan

In Search of the Sea Snake

In October 1845 British geologist Charles Lyell was visiting Boston, when he noted an advertisement proclaiming that a "Dr." Albert C. Koch would exhibit the 114-foot-long skeleton of " that colossal and terrible reptile the sea serpent " to the paying public...

April 8, 2013 — David Bressan

Citizen Science: Are you brave enough to venture to Earth s Core?

Since old times people - especially geologists - speculated about the interior of Earth. The Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) imagined an allegoric center of the Earth: a frozen wasteland, not reached by the divine light, where Lucifer is entrapped in eternal ice.The French Sci-Fi author Jules Gabriel Verne (1828 - 1905) based " A Journey to the Center of the Earth " (1864) already on early science...

April 1, 2013 — David Bressan

March 30, 1759: The Four Layers of Earth

In a letter dated to March 30, 1759 the Italian mining engineer Giovanni Arduino (1714-1795) proposed to the physician and fossil collector Prof. Antonio Vallisnieri the subdivision of earth's crust in various classes of rocks.Based on his observations along the foothills of the Alps, Arduino recognized a stratigraphic column with 4 classes: unstratified or poorly stratified rocks (or " Primary Rocks ", survived into the 20th century as " Paleozoic "), stratified rocks (" Secondary Rocks ", or " Mesozoic "), more recent, as yet unconsolidated, sediments (" Tertiary Rocks ") and as own category volcanic rocks...

March 30, 2013 — David Bressan

March 23, 1769: William Smith - Pioneer of Applied Geology

" William Smith Never saw a coccolith But using macrofossil data He ordered all the English strata " An anonymous clerihew dedicated to W. Smith William Smith , born March 23, 1769, introduced in his " Strata - Identified by organized Fossils " (1816) the " principle of faunal succession " into stratigraphy...

March 23, 2013 — David Bressan

Maria Matilda Ogilvie Gordon: Pioneer Geologist of the Dolomites

Dana Hunter is compiling a list of Pioneering Women in the Geosciences, so here a name closely linked with the geology of the Dolomites .The Scottish Maria Matilda Ogilvie Gordon (1864-1939, the photo shows her in 1900, image in public domain), or simply May , was the oldest daughter of a clergy family with eight children, five boys and three girls.The parents valued education and maintained connections to various schools and colleges - Maria entered Merchant Company Schools' Ladies College in Edinburgh at age of 9...

March 20, 2013 — David Bressan

Down the Rabbit Hole

" And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. "" Beyond Good and Evil ", Aphorism 146 (1886) by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)Since prehistoric times humans ventured into caves, as proved by the discovery of rock art even in remote parts of many European cave systems...

March 7, 2013 — David Bressan

Darwin's Tree and Deep Time

" Geologising in a Volcanic country is most delightful,… []"Geologist Charles Darwin in a letter to his fatherDarwin is today remembered for his gradualistic view of earth's history, an essential prerequisite for his view of life, as he concludes in 1859 " from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved ." The famous voyage of the Beagle would prove decisive for Darwin to discover deep time and adopt this view.The first stop of the H.M.S...

February 24, 2013 — David Bressan

Mass Extinctions and Meteorite Impacts

The flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 and especially the past and present Russian meteors are impressive reminders that the terrestrial biosphere can be affected also by extraterrestrial forces...

February 17, 2013 — David Bressan

Geologizing with Darwin

" Therefore on my return to Shropshire I examined sections and coloured a map of parts round Shrewsbury. "Darwin in his autobiography (1876)" A map is always a decisive criterion of they who aspire to the rank of geologists [E]very one who has not compiled a map, wants the necessary talent of combination ...

February 12, 2013 — David Bressan

Geomorphologic Groundhog Day

We don't know how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if he could chuck wood, but we know how much sediment he moves per year… Biogeomorphology , also referred as ecogeomorphology or sometimes as zoogeomorphology , is the study of the linkages between ecology and geomorphology, or in simple terms between life forms and landforms...

February 2, 2013 — David Bressan

Men among prediluvian Beasts

" No subject has lately excited more curiosity and general interest among geologists and the public than the question of the Antiquity of the Human Race...[] "Lyell 1863The debate over the age of the earth generated an even more intriguing question: how old is humankind?...

January 27, 2013 — David Bressan

Book Review: On the Strata of the Earth

The Russian scholar Mikhail Vasil´evich Lomonosov (1711-1765) was a typical polymath of his time, dedicated to poetry, art, literature, history, philosophy, meteorology, astronomy, chemistry and mineralogy.Born into a relatively wealthy fisherman and trader family from the village of Denisovka (North Russia) he got interested in natural science in early years accompanying his father on trading missions...

January 18, 2013 — David Bressan

January 11, 1771: The Birthday of Lake Alleghe

The lake of Alleghe in the valley of Cordévole is today exactly 242 years old. The moment of the birth of the lake is well known, at 7:02 in the morning of January 11, 1771 the river flowing through the valley became dammed by a landslide coming from the mountain Piz...

January 11, 2013 — David Bressan
Scroll To Top